For youth, transitioning in schools can be very challenging; as our research has shown, trans individuals experience a significant amount of verbal and physical harassment from their peers. For some trans people, the school community may be the only support system available to them. School Resource Officers can work with trans youth as they determine their needs and assist them within the school community with their transition process. Finding ways to support trans youth as parents and families can also be challenging – the Parents section of MyGSA.ca has plenty of resources to assist you (www.mygsa.ca/parents).
Supporting Trans Students
Work with trans students and their parents, teachers, school counsellors and principals to develop a flexible plan and support structure that respects and corresponds to the student’s gender identity and presentation. Always keep in mind the student’s immediate health, safety, educational and personal development needs and adjust accordingly.
Establish yourself as a safe person the student can go to for help and support: Know what resources are available and be prepared to help the student access those resources if you don’t know how to respond to a particular issue.
Respect the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality: Students who are not “out,” or are in the process of transitioning, are at greater risk of bullying, violence, depression and suicide. Know the signs and intervene when necessary, but remember that “outing” a student may do more harm than good.
Be proactive: Challenge transphobic jokes and comments and use them as an opportunity to educate and dispel prejudice and misinformation. Follow-up with a private conversation for a more in-depth and nuanced discussion about the history and effects of these comments.
Be aware that your silence signals your approval of discriminatory acts.
Check out the following resources and more at www.mygsa.ca/educators: